As Europe sweats it out under a severe heatwave and California suffers under one of the worst dry spells in its history, many-a-men will forego wearing their favorite perfume. It’s all about survival : when the ambient atmosphere is difficult to breathe, loading the stagnant air around you with scented particles only makes it more difficult to breathe, no matter how amazing the perfume.
Fortunately, the wondrous world of perfumery is an extensive one, and chock full of viable options for the elegant man who seeks to remain dashing and well-scented through the thick of summer.
This article is dedicated to those who can’t stand the idea of going without perfumes for too long a span ; a small selection of four perfumes from my own collection, which I’ll present in detail …
… after a tiny disclaimer : I need to stress again that all the perfumes listed below are from my personal collection. As such, they might not be as luring to everyone as they are to me – and some might fare better on my skin than on yours.
As with all the subject matters that we write about on PG, we strongly urge you to sample the products for yourselves : go to a store, order a few samples, spray some perfume on a tester – common sense, really. Perfumery is a highly subjective world. Don’t settle for blind buys if you can help it.
* In case of a bad heatwave, or in anticipation of a day spent hiking under a blazing sun, you might want to set your principles aside and forget the perfume altogether. Chances are the perfume won’t last long on sweaty skin anyway.
* If your skin tends to sweat a lot, you might want to allow a few droplets to graze your lapels or better yet, spray one or two dashes on your pocket square and leave it at that. The fabric will absorb the juice, and will be less susceptible to dilution than your skin. And if you spray too much, you may just remove your pocket square. Speaking of which…
* There are no ideal spray numbers to apply the perfect quantity of perfume to last you through the day. Many factors are to be taken into account, including but not limited to : your skin type, your tendency to sweat a lot or not, and your choice of perfume. But when in doubt, use less – better to under-perfume than to become walking bug bait. Always favor discretion.
* Try spraying below the neckline and under the shirt. Part of the fragrance will be absorbed by the fabric and the relatively closed and humid environment will allow the fragrance to last longer than on exposed bare skin.
Now – let us dig into the thick of the subject. On to the list !
The latest addition to the Caron masculine collection brings to center stage the exotic Yuzu, a specific citrus fruit from Japan that boasts a fairly unique smell and taste.
The opening is smooth and pleasant, as it lets the citrus shine with the sharper edges dulled by the unlikely presence of a strongly aromatic fig and a few stalks of basil. This fairly sweet combination slowly fades away as the light tartness of the Yuzu dissipates and the woody base notes pierce through, leaving only a faint yet fresh imprint of citrus to linger close to your skin.
Yuzu is a fragrance you might call simplistic ; I call it elegant in its simplicity. Simplicity is indeed a virtue in many areas – and nowhere is this truer than in summer perfumery. You don’t want to choke people around you with a haze of heavy notes.
A fine addition to the masculine collection of Caron. A far cry from the strong original fragrances that make up the rest of the range, that much is true, but a well-executed piece nonetheless.
++ : Classic with a light twist. You will want to take a bite of the yuzu / fig accord.
— : Perfectible drydown
In the heart of summer, even the most adamant supporter of niche fragrances and overly original notes might crave something easier to wear. Something comfortable if you will, like a freshly washed and ironed white linen shirt. Something quite simply pleasant, like a good shower after a long balmy night spent sweating under the sheets.
Aqua Vitae Forte by Francis Kurkdjian fits the bill in that regard. While the fragrance doesn’t reinvent the craft, it is sophisticated enough to warrant a wear. The opening deals in a simple citrusy bouquet, quickly joined by the core floral bouquet – lemon, bergamot and tangerine mixed up with a light dash of orange blossom and ylang-ylang, spiced up by a touch of black pepper and cardamom, on a bed of vetiver and sandalwood chips.
The citrus goes the fresh way – almost to the verge of tartness, then fades under the light and aerial spiciness of the floral bouquet. A relative lack of sillage coupled with a rather satisfying projection in the first couple of hours and a solid lifespan make for an ideal summer wear.
For those seeking a good unisex perfume with enough substance to be interesting while not making the ambient atmosphere overly scented and stagnant, Francis Kurkdjian delivers with Aqua Vitae Forte.
A convincing product that remises the powder in the dressing room to let the most aerial side of the notes do the talking.
A very safe option.
++ : Sophisticated and clean, light but not volatile ; easy to wear, and lasts for a satisfying amount of time.
— : Maybe a tad too safe for those who enjoy a bolder perfume.
The EDC (Eau De Cologne) version of a perfume that received a fair amount of scathing reviews upon its release, mostly under the spell of the most vindictive perfumistas that lurk on the internet – who criticized yet another departure from the classic Guerlain soul with what basically amounts to a very mainstream perfume.
While it would be hard to disagree that l’Homme Idéal was indeed created to satisfy the largest customer base possible, I didn’t find it to be that much of a misstep in Guerlain’s superb collection – not by a long shot.
I could even say that I find most of the criticism addressed to Thierry Wasser’s latest to be slightly unfair. In the oversaturated perfumery market, a perfume that does not find its audience is doomed to disappear.
The circumstances of today’s market called for a commercial success. Guerlain needed to revitalize interest in their masculine collection ; times are different from the house’s golden age, unfortunately.
Whatever you might think of l’Homme Idéal, it went on and became exactly what it set out to be, a commercial success and a best-selling fragrance. And despite all criticism, the fact remains the l’Homme Idéal is a true compliment-magnet and a bona fide crowd-pleaser but most importantly a pleasant perfume to wear.
If you disliked the original based on ideological reasons, chances are, you won’t like this version. If you took a liking for the EDT (Eau De Toilette) however, then you will likely not be disappointed.
The EDC is different enough from the EDT to justify its existence, while not straying too far away from the strengths of the original. L’Homme Idéal Cologne amplifies the fresh side of the perfume by reducing the almond and tonka notes, all the while tuning the citrus slightly up – add in a touch of neroli for good measure and to sweeten the deal, and you’ve got a genuinely pleasant fragrance built for summer wear.
Guerlain treads on safe territory, and this Cologne is absolutely built for commercial success, that much cannot be denied; however, it doesn’t make it any less of a pleasant option for summer as the scent proves to be a properly crafted and perfectly mastered alternative incarnation of Guerlain’s latest hit.
++ : Keeps and adds a fair bit of depth the gourmand accord of the original – easily lasts throughout the day.
— : Could have strayed a bit farther off the beaten path maybe … ?
Most of the perfumes on this list, as you might have rightly noticed, tend to include a fair share of citrus in their composition. This for good reasons : the notes that make up the citrus olfactive family tend to be fresher and more volatile than most other notes – and as such perfectly suited for lighter perfumes and summer-friendly fragrances.
So let us break the mold for a while with Fou d’Absinthe by l’Artisan Parfumeur. As its name suggests, the fragrance is a fougère, built around notes of absinthe, featuring a healthy dose of wormwood.
Fou d’Absinthe opens on a very green bouquet, made of angelica and blackcurrant, behind which the sweet bitterness of the absinthe timidly makes its presence known. At heart, light licorice fumes from the wormwood crawls out towards the edge of the fragrance in a way reminiscent of star anise, as specks of clove and a discreet bit of peppery lavender stalk builds up in the background.
After evaporation of the head notes, Fou d’Absinthe continues on smooth wooden aftertones, made of pine and cedar brushed in patchouli. The progression goes linear. All the ingredients have that fine vermouth aftertaste, as if they had been washed lightly in liquor, which brings the whole together brilliantly.
Fou d’Absinthe is a clever balancing work ; a proper fougère that walks a fine line between the aromatic strength of the spiciest notes and the relative sweetness of the wood notes. The result is a light and aromatic fragrance which never gets heady.
An educated choice for all seasons and a gamble which may prove successful for a perfumed summer, outside of the beaten path of a classic “seasonal” perfume.
++ : Impressively smooth. Smells stunning. Relatively original to boot.
— : Looses a bit of its oomph in the long run.